Alexander Scrimgeour

  • Wiesbaden Biennale

    New York has drugstores in old movie palaces, Detroit has its grand parking lots. For the duration of this exhibition, the provincial German city of Wiesbaden had a drive-in theater in its principal theater, as well as a fully functioning supermarket in the building’s neo-Baroque foyer. Deli refrigerator units, fair-trade coffee, fruits, vegetables, and in-store advertising partially obscured the grand room’s oil paintings, stucco, and ornate mirrors. This installation wasn’t credited to an artist but was commissioned from the supermarket chain REWE by Maria Magdalena Ludewig and Martin Hammer,

  • “Neïl Beloufa: The enemy of my enemy”

    In his videos embedded in sculptural environments, as well as in his first feature film, Occidental (2017), Neïl Beloufa has made a strategy of sidestepping expectations to redirect attention to structural questions of politics and power. Here, Beloufa ups the ante of his culture jamming to expose the discourses and strategies of modern propaganda across the board, from Far Left to Far Right. The clincher is that the exhibits—including artifacts such as a baseball signed by Tony Blair, loans from museums of military history, and artworks by the likes of Gustave

  • Willem de Rooij

    A kind of grand finale to a trio of recent solo shows held over the past few years, this exhibition brings together floral bouquets, handwoven tapestries, a sportswear line by Dutch fashion designer Fong Leng, and an installation of decontextualized press photographs depicting “riots, protest, mourning, and commemoration.” The variety of Willem de Rooij’s recent output will thus be on full view—as will older works made with his longtime collaborator, Jeroen de Rijke, who died in 2006. In all these works, a seductive visual clarity is polemically entangled in questions

  • Tobias Kaspar

    Tobias Kaspar’s recent show brought back memories of my puzzlement, years ago, over a pink canvas by Willem de Rooij that appeared to change color depending on where you were standing. In some respects, Kaspar one-upped him with the three pieces on view here, all Untitled, 2016. Their hi-tech, silvery, iridescent fabric contains particles of glass that appear to reflect light differently depending on one’s viewing position. In the triptych in the gallery’s first room, for example, a shifting surface of shiny silver rectangles emerged from the uniform gray you saw as you entered from the street.


    A DEEP EXISTENTIAL APORIA seemed to have settled over David Raymond Conroy’s show at Seventeen gallery in London last year. Cheap, jerry-rigged wooden frames became miniature stage sets, offering an ambivalently melodramatic presentation of the kind of mundane consumer objects that are so much a part of contemporary daily life: sneakers, Beck’s Blue beer bottles, a Big Mac. The mise-en-scène was literally scripted by texts mounted directly onto these structures, each offering a different glimpse into the life of the same character, an apparently middle-aged, middle-class male, who seems to live

  • Sofia Hultén

    “A politics to come,” Giorgio Agamben recently asserted, demands a conception of “a way of life that is not based on deeds or on property, but on use.” I read his interview with Die Zeit the same week I saw Sofia Hultén’s recent exhibition “Truckin’.” Its titular video (all works cited, 2015) shows the artist walking through Berlin, swapping her sneakers for others she finds on the street. There are surprisingly many of these lying around, and she carefully places each discarded pair in the same position as the new pair—one of which is caught in a bush next to a brick wall. The shoes all

  • Revital Cohen & Tuur van Balen

    A few months before I left New York, someone gave me a goldfish he had won at a funfair, thinking that having a pet would help me feel more rooted in the Big Apple. I left my tiny Brooklyn apartment shortly after, but not without learning that goldfish, too, can suffer from loneliness and stress and are ill-suited to living in small bowls. I was reminded of this episode at the opening of “assemble | standard | minimal” by London-based duo Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen, where the first thing viewers encountered were three solitary goldfish in small, barren aquariums in a work titled Sterile,

  • Jan Peter Hammer

    Taking us from the Skinner box to the present-day tourist attraction SeaWorld Orlando, Jan Peter Hammer’s film Tilikum, 2013–15, shot on HD video, was the ambitious centerpiece of this exhibition. It tells the story of the past century through the lens of the ethical complexities of human–animal relations, but it begins in the recent past, with a black screen and the recording of a 911 call made when the orca (or, less scientifically, “killer whale”) after which the piece is named drowned his trainer in full view of spectators in Orlando in 2010. She was Tilikum’s third victim.

    The arc from the

  • Nikita Kadan

    In recent years, sites of protest—Tahrir Square, Zuccotti Park, Taksim Square—have functioned in large part as visual interventions in the fabric of the city. As such, they’ve made claims on attention, time, and space on behalf of those excluded from the normal running of things. These provisional encampments took something from several disparate spheres—political demonstrations, the squatters’ movement, refugee and homeless camps, even music festivals—and fashioned them into something new: One might almost say a genre where politics and the image met on updated terms.


  • Jay Chung and Q Takeki Maeda

    There wasn’t much to see in this exhibition: just four works spread throughout the gallery’s three rooms. The first was Monika (all works 2014), a large, rough-hewn stone, set on a mantelpiece; the second, Ulrike, the silhouette of the interior space of an arch, cut from a sheet of rubber; and the third, down the corridor past the offices, a color woodblock print with pastel-colored wood grain, titled Lena. The names represent three generations of women: Monika, the wife of the legendary Düsseldorf gallerist Alfred Schmela; the couple’s daughter Ulrike; and their granddaughter Lena Brüning (who


    MUCH, PERHAPS MOST, art demands the allegiance of viewers; it seeks to persuade of its own relevance, to proselytize a worldview, or to guide you, however subtly, in what and how to think and feel. Neïl Beloufa’s work does this too, but in a deeply equivocal way, one that recognizes the perpetually fraught nature of such a relationship between viewer and work. The Algerian-French artist’s practice invites a different kind of engagement, one akin to what art historian Malcolm Bull has dubbed reading “like a loser”: refusing—or being denied—the privilege of being the viewer who “gets

  • interviews September 17, 2014

    Gianni Piacentino

    The sculptural and wall-based work of Italian artist Gianni Piacentino is based around ideas of speed, branding, and industrial aesthetics. In spite of (often inadvertently) sharing ground with Minimalism and Pop art, Piacentino’s practice has defied categorization since his early, fraught association with Arte Povera in the 1960s. His work is partly inspired by his lifelong love of motorbikes, which gave rise to the streamlined vehicle sculptures he is best known for. Here he talks about his current exhibition (curated by Andrea Bellini) at VW (VeneKlasen/Werner) in Berlin, which is on view

  • Stewart Uoo

    In Joan Didion’s famous description of New York’s “insistent sentimentalization of experience,” she claimed it involved a century-old “distortion and flattening of character and the reduction of events to narrative.” Today, however, her observation calls for different terms. The distortion of character may be ubiquitous, but flattening is too simple a word to describe what links self to surface; and rather than being reduced, events are exaggerated through narrative. New York’s “downtown scene,” for example, thrives on its relationship with its own romanticized past, which is not to deny the

  • diary April 15, 2014

    Eat Pray LOVE

    MY IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE of the opening days for the sixth Glasgow International biennial began the morning after my arrival, when I had an appointment at a nail salon, part of Alistair Frost’s AZQ<>$@•^. I am usually pretty suspicious of feel-good art, especially when it’s participatory, but this was like a less demanding version of being pampered at the hairdresser, and I left with appliqued pinkies and thumbs. Was I shortchanged any subtexts of gender trouble, gentrification, artistic or social critique? I am not sure. Someone later told me I should have left a tip. Next time.

    A morning of

  • Anicka Yi

    On entering Anicka Yi’s recent exhibition, one saw a light-gray wall with rectangular recessed chambers containing sculptural assemblages, stylishly illuminated and mounted on flat white pedestals. The presentation evoked the displays at a high-end store—which makes a certain sense, since the show was partly conceived in collaboration with Mari Ouchi of New York–based boutique jeweler Faux/Real. Three large compartments contained arrangements of materials such as translucent resin, trinkets, Plexiglas, and steel; a smaller one was filled with dry dog food. For all her work’s superficial


    WE SPEND A LOT OF TIME looking through transparent surfaces—windows, screens—but far less time looking at them. After all, such objects are typically taken for granted; their ideal condition is a form of invisibility. And yet despite—or perhaps because of—this elusiveness, transparency has acquired a powerful symbolism, imbued with the moral values of openness, truth, and purity. Berlin-based artist Beny Wagner peers into just these paradoxes of transparency, particularly its complex and shifting interchanges between material and metaphor. In video, sculpture, sound, text,

  • Micol Assäel

    The industrial-noir aesthetic of Micol Assäel’s work is by turns Cold War and futuristic, yet there is always more than meets the eye: The Italian-born artist typically makes the viewer’s body a conduit between this visible realm and hidden forces such as electricity, magnetism, and coldness. In addition to one new work resulting from experiments in the run-up to the show, this survey will bring together four of the artist’s installations, ranging from Untitled, 2003, a room in which iron furniture is suspended above occasionally sparking electric cables, to Mindfall,

  • “Notes on Neo-Camp”

    Several of the works in the front room of “Notes on Neo-Camp,” curated by Chris Sharp, seemed to exemplify the ascendance of a newly contextualized, networked figuration in sculpture. The impassioned referentiality of the assemblage that makes up Tom Burr’s Fassbinder Piece, 2011—a green leather trench coat, a special issue of October devoted to the German director, and a poster for the film Kamikaze 1989 (starring Fassbinder and released in 1982, the year of his death)—resonated with that of Anthea Hamilton’s 2012 Venice Kimono across the room: a wide-sleeved, brightly colored costume

  • Wolfgang Betke

    A belt sander is likely the most important piece of equipment in Wolfgang Betke’s studio, allowing his works to develop, characteristically, through the repeated application and removal of paint. He grinds through or across swaths of paint and gestural lines, as well as around or on top of collaged elements, and frequently sands down the canvas itself—or, in several recent works, an aluminum ground—to such an extent that holes appear. Betke’s manipulations of surfaces through processes of addition and subtraction bring together strategies of gestural painting, décollage, scuffing, and

  • picks October 10, 2013

    David Wojtowycz

    A fluctuating light in a succession of pastel hues emanates from the sculpture at the center of David Wojtowycz’s exhibition, but rejecting a James Turrell-like sublime, it is grounded in customized light boxes spelling out the word GLEN. Mounted on construction fencing, the sculpture, which is titled Glen (all works 2013), is part nightclub sign and part mausoleum: The entire show, it turns out, is an homage to—and an expanded portrait of—this deceased person. The press release gives his years as 1960–1986; he is described as a “twenty-six-year-old trucker from Chicago” (suggesting a caption